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The Cuts/Improvements Not Made In Waterford's Government

LRFMP Ten Years Later – Recommendations Not Followed

Saturday I discussed the recommendations of the Long Range Fiscal Management Plan (LRFMP) that have been accomplished in the past ten years.  This column discusses those recommendations that have not been followed.  If a reason for not following the recommendation is known, it is so noted.

Board of Selectmen

Eliminate the Personnel Review Board – This measure was defeated at the November 2, 2010 elections.  It will probably be reintroduced if and when another Charter Revision Commission is formed.

Board of Finance/Representative Town Meeting

Representative Town Meeting (RTM) needs to adopt a policy statement resolution subscribing to the principles of formalized performance improvement -  The RTM has not addressed this issue.

Financial Services

Employees in Assessor’s Office be cross trained to handle workload peaks in Tax Collector’s Office, especially in July and January -  Since the promulgation of the LRFMP, the personnel in the Assessor’s office has been reduced.  It turns out the Assessor’s Office is just a busy in July and January.  There is also a possible Internal Control Issue if assessor personnel work in the collection side of the office.

Purchasing Agent serve both town and schools in a central services concept – The purchasing agent does handle some consumable purchases for the Board of Education (BOE) but most major purchases are handled by persons directly employed by the BOE.

Finance should charge costs back to individual departments for internal services- This has not proved to be cost effective. Centralized accounting has proven to be better controlled.

Internal service funds should be established for Insurance and risk management, building maintenance, information technology and fleet management. – Only the fleet management fund has been established.  The other services have their own budget line but not their own fund.

Public Safety Central Dispatch should operate under an enterprise fund with revenues from internal and external sources – Waterford has not been successful in regionalizing the dispatch center although with the new communications system and the recent renovation of the dispatch center, it is capable of assuming such a role.

Personnel should be assigned to complete capital projects on a full time basis and subject to some performance management system. – This has never been attempted due to the attrition of personnel since 2001.

Delegate payroll and payables to the larger operating departments to eliminate duplicate work.  These tasks are centralized in the Finance Department and only one computer entry is made.  Using one purchasing agent has been very effective and  all HR entries are done by the HR department.

Town Clerk

Town Clerks’ automated systems should be integrated into central computer network. – Town Clerk continues to be supported separately from  the Town computer system.

Town Clerk should actively work with other municipal clerks to acquire a more efficient system for managing land records.

Land Use Related

The Name of the Department should be changed to Community Development to more accurately reflect the complex relationships and public private partnerships that are needed to carry out successful land and building development. – No direct benefit seen from this change.

A Chief Building Official should be appointed by the Town Planner.  No change planned from current system.

Economic Development Commission should ensure that the development process is as expeditious and customer friendly as possible. – The Commission monitors the development process but the Town Planner is in charge of making the process as fair as possible but still complying with regulations.

Public Library

Waterford Public Schools should work with Library so users may communicate with each other irrespective of whether user is a student or a customer.

Public Schools and Library should coordinate their media center and library technology development plans.

Police Department

Reduce Staff and number of patrol zones – See comment below.

Negotiate with police union to develop more cost effective work schedules based upon service delivery and shift coverage requirements. – Subject to union negotiation, more negotiation is required to change patrol cycles.

Incorporate Central Dispatch as a separate public safety corporation to provide regional communication and dispatch services. – Town has not been successful in getting other towns to agree to a regional 911 dispatch center.

Fire Department

Change fire response to “the department as a whole rather than initially from within each fire district”- Standard response for the five departments is a response from the within district department and the nearest adjacent department so that two of the five respond to each call.

Respond to EMS calls “…by operating one or two ambulances assigned to cover the community.”  Currently an ambulance is assigned to each fire house by the Waterford Ambulance Association, an independent company.

Change volunteer membership to a “Waterford Fire Department” rather than to an assigned Fire House.  See comment below.

Consider closing one or more fire stations.  This will not occur as long as there are sufficient volunteers to man each fire house district.

Insure all fire inspectors be certified EMTs and staff  the second ambulance.  The fire inspections would be performed on an in service basis. 

Public Works

Use an internal service fund to charge operating departments for the repair services of Public Works.  Departments do pay for the repairs to their equipment directly from the department budget on a cost center basis.

Utility Commission

Shift capital improvement costs to rate payers through higher water and sewer rates.  Sewer rates have been increased to a level that rate payers are paying for the operation of the Sewer System and day to day maintenance.  Capital improvements are still the responsibility of the Waterford tax payer by Town Ordinance.

Recreation and Parks

Reduce staff and increase fees to cover program all program costs.  Fees have been increased but most do not cover all the program costs.

Make Recreation and Parks self supporting (see above) through a special revenue fund.  See comment below

Develop a strategic plan to consider mission of department at lower funding levels and increase departmental efficiency.  This recommendation may still have some merit with or without the special revenue fund.

Information Technology

Make public information more available in electronic format to help residents become more self sufficient in obtaining public information, making payments, obtaining licenses and permits, and communicating with schools about children’s education.  Waterford web site is much improved but Town is still investigating how to make payments, and obtain licenses and permits on line.

Cross train school and town finance staff to perform multiple functions in either environment.

Use town GIS to plan school transportation and other planning needs.

Acquire a property management system to protect buildings and related infrastructure.

Town acquire and implement a network wide customer service application.

Board of Education

Reduce day student transportation costs by eliminating transportation to some students living closest to schools.

Reduce day student transportation costs by changing the daily school start/close times.

Eliminate funding for field trips.

Provide “In house” Special Education transportation services

Make summer school self supporting (charge fees).

Implement Athletic user fees.

Implement user fees for student activities

Obtain salary concessions.

Increase Pupil:Teacher ration to 23:1.

It would be useful to get some feedback from the readers if they think any of the recommendations above should be implemented in Waterford today.  I look forward to hearing (reading) from you.

waterford worker February 27, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Your recomendation to have a department response to a fire emergency versus a district response might cause problems as to who responds. Are you saying that if there is an alarm at the mall then Goshen should respond cross town? Won't this increase wear and tear on the trucks and increase fuel usage? The current system has those closest to the alarm respond and add resources as needed. Maybe you should say that we need to combine stations and not "close" them. Combining Goshen and Jordan with a new station on Great Neck Road would be one solution or to combine Cohanzie and Oswegatchie with a new station on Cross Rd. With the repairs that are needed to Co#4 maybe now is the time to combine stations. Another recomendation is to remove Waterford Ambulance from the fire houses and make them a stand alone entity similar to Groton Ambulance. Waterford could be served by 2 fully staffed ambulances with a third on call. Waterford might get more EMTs if they can join just an ambulance service and not the fire department.
Holly Anderson Camerota February 27, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Thanks to Mr. Sheehan for this comprehensive information about our town. I would support modest increases in classes at the community center to offset program costs; the center is an invaluable resource for our town's residents, and the programming is excellent. If one were to attend such classes elsewhere, the costs would be greater.
Crazy-in-Wtfd. February 27, 2011 at 10:27 PM
I question the police department choices- Reduce staff? The department is about the same size it was in the 1980's. How can anyone expect to reduce staff? If anything, they should be increasing staff. Not only does crime go up as the economy goes down, but this town needs a traffic unit badly. A unit designed specifically just for traffic, not the current traffic officer who does thousands of different things. As far as shifts go....they work around the clock. I imagine some shifts are busier than others, but can anyone predict crime, car accidents, weather related issues and all the other stuff they do? There has to be safe coverage at all times. And as far as patrol zones go...how many are there? I imagine it is to keep coverage in all areas of town. I also question Board of Ed choices- Eliminate buses to those who live closest? So if I live where you think I'm close to the school....my kid has to walk in rain and cold? I pay the same taxes any other parent pays....why would someone not have equal services based on what you think is close? (You meaning town) Obtain teacher concessions. Again? Why does the town continue to agree to these benefits and then ask for it back? They did agree to it didn't they?
Mark Zanghetti February 28, 2011 at 12:18 AM
"Waterford could be served by 2 fully staffed ambulances with a third on call." Do you know how often we have three and four ambulances in town all on different calls? The system is not perfect and could use some improvement but a separate organization is not the answer! I think you would find that three ambulances would not be enough. I won't even start to discuss response times for the third ambulance waiting for crews to respond to a central location in town would be WAY TOO LONG. This situation would also occur if you relocated fire houses to Crossroads or Great Neck Rds. Remember folks, just because it makes financial sense, DOESN'T MEAN it makes sense from a firefighting or EMS delivery sense.

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